I sat at the dated kitchen table on an unbalanced chair, sipping bad coffee out of a chipped mug. The tiny apartment was meticulously clean, but it still appeared dingy. There were empty sockets in all the fixtures, so even with all the lights on, darkness clung to vacant corners.
From the kitchen, line of sight flowed into the living room. Flaked linoleum gave way to tan shag carpet, laid flat after years of foot traffic. Bought secondhand, the couch sagged dangerously in the middle, its plaid pattern faded by the decades. There was a lounge chair seated near the couch, so overstuffed there were springs showing through the fabric. I was not sure it even reclined anymore. A sigh escaped me; it was all so depressing.
Emerging from the back bedroom, my best friend, Tina, carried a basket full of clean clothes; we had recently returned from the nearby laundromat. She could have stayed there, where there was a counter to fold on, but the place was sketchy at best and an older gentlemen in baggy trousers and a stained sleeveless shirt seemed content to leer at us while he fed a dryer quarters. It was not saying much, but we felt safer here in the tenement.
We chatted idly out nothing, avoiding the larger issues I wished she would speak about. The divorce had been hard and she was struggling to adjust to single life. At the moment it seemed a blessing she had been unable to conceive a child – she was barely living off her part-time, minimum wage job on her own. It used to be all glitter and caviar. Now her life was reduced to clipping coupons just to keep enough food in the cabinet for herself.
Another sigh leaked out of me and she glanced up questioningly. I shook my head and painted a placid smile on my face, though anger was seething inside. She should not be living like this. The whole thing was a travesty brought on by her twofaced, narcissistic ex-husband.
If vanity had a name, it would be Blake Charles Worthington the Third. To him, perception was everything. He had to have the perfect life: the job, the house, the car, the wife – surely a condition brought on by a wealthy upbringing. For a while, Tina fit the mold Blake’s mind had created, until the day they found out she was not able to get pregnant. She became broken in his eyes, a constant reminder of a failed legacy.
Tina hung on to the illusion of her marriage, timid as a mouse and unable to leave. Enduring his verbal abuse, long nights at the office, stretched out business trips, and a few not so secret affairs, she managed to put on a cheerful face. Only I knew how hurt she was, how damaged.
When Blake finally filed, it was almost a relief, right up until the trial. Due to his social and financial standing, Tina had signed a pre-nuptial agreement stating that if she was found to be unfaithful, she forfeited her right to equitable division of the assets, though there was no clause against his infidelity. She was faithful to a fault and did not expect a problem. When the time came for Blake to state his case, he had managed to fabricate a torrid affair between her and an employee of the house. Not only was said employee willing to confess to the relationship, but Blake manufactured proof to strengthen his claim. There was nothing Tina could do – all she had was her word.
Now she was starting over from scratch, with nothing to show of her marriage except a broken heart and an empty womb. It almost broke my own heart to see the adversity she faced as she worked herself to the bone for mere scraps. Her pain was the one reason I kept my mouth shut about my pregnancy.
After all, how do you tell your closest confidant you are carrying the Worthington child she was unable to provide?
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The Legacy ©Robin Allen 2015
All rights reserved. This story, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including recording, photocopying, offset, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author, except by reviewers who may quote brief passages to be printed in a magazine or newspaper.